Governor K Sankaranarayanan has asked chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to set up an administrative mechanism to address grievances of the citizens against Right to Information commissioners.
In a consultative meeting with Chavan on Thursday, the governor raised the issue of complaints received by his office against the state’s chief information commissioner and other information commissioners over issues ranging from biased judgements and illegal orders to pendency of appeals.
A Raj Bhavan official, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said citizens expect relief from the governor because he is the appointing authority, but the governor gets his powers from the council of ministers. “The question is can the governor intervene in the issue independently or does he forward the complaints to the state government. How does the state plan to address them?” he asked.
The state government will seek the opinion of the advocate general and look at how the Centre and other states deal with this issue to set up a redressal mechanism.
“It’s a ticklish issue. The information commissioner’s is a constitutional post. They [information commissioners] are vested with great powers to ensure independent functioning,’’ said a state official, who was present at the meeting, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
However, RTI activists are of the opinion that the governor has sufficient powers to take action.
“The RTI Act has given ample powers to the governor to take action after receiving complaints, by initiating an inquiry or forwarding it to the apex court. Instead, what’s happening is that the governor is forwarding complaints to the government, which is sitting on the issue,’’ RTI activist, GR Vora, said, calling it a “classic case of shirking responsibility”.
The governor had asked the state to clarify on this issue six months ago after his office received 96 complaints and representations against information commissioners.
The governor got no reply from then chief secretary JP Dange.